Manduca quinquemaculata

A major predator of Tomato Horn Worms

This Tomato Horn Worm has more than 100 white cocoons spun by the larvae of the Braconid Wasp which were laid inside the Horn Worm by the winged adult, where they hatched and grew as larvae until emerging and  spinning these prominent miniature cocoons.

Here a winged adult is just lifting the lid for its first peek at the world. Isn't it amazing that they already know everything they need to perpetuate their species ? Without Parents, Teachers,
or government interference. Just imagine it knowing how to walk and fly,
and the many months it takes to teach a human baby to walk.

Here a winged adult is emerging from its cocoon, after chewing a nearly perfect circle from the end. Within seconds, it will have flown away to find a mate, lay eggs in a Horn Worm, and start the cycle all over again. A Miracle - right before your eyes. Note that some cocoon ends are dark, indicating there is a head inside contemplating its escape.

Upon chewing the lid from the cocoon, these winged adults immediately take flight. Elapsed time; often less than five seconds. Your shutter finger must be quick to catch them before they are gone. Sometimes the lid is removed, sometimes it is left hanging on by a small hinge.

These two Horn Worms are in the final stages of predation. At left is a dead specimen which is turning brown.  On the right can be seen open-ended cocoons, indicating that their 1/4" occupants have emerged and flown away to mate and victimize more Tomato Horn Worms.
We sell these Cocoons HERE

If you find a Worm with cocoons, it is best left undisturbed
to allow the cocoons to develop and increase the predator population.

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